Requiem for the Lost
Requiem for the Lost
By Doctor Xadium
June 1st, 2005It was an ordinary street on an ordinary day in an ordinary corner of the city. The sky was bright, the breeze was gentle, and the masses went about their business under the warmth of the summer sun. It was a perfectly typical scene, a tableau of the mundane such as could be found on countless planets at almost any point in their histories. But at one particular table, under a dark green umbrella, unbeknownst to the teeming throngs who milled about, two very extraordinary people sat, sipping iced tea and watching the world blur past.
They were both older than the city around them, both youthful in body, but aged in soul. Two women who were products of a different era, whose time was long past, and yet they had survived. They persisted, despite the best efforts of the cosmos to put them down. They had met like this a thousand times before, permanent fixtures in different eras, as time slipped by them. But this time, for the first time, they would actually speak to one another.
Similar, yet different. One woman with twin hearts and the slow-aging blood of a Time Lord, and the other with no heart at all-- literally, but not emotionally. The addition of a Sailor Crystal sympathetic to that of planet Venus had cured that "defect."
Defect, Mango Kattan mused bitterly as she sipped her iced tea. What she wouldn't give to not feel now.
The other woman, Sakura Xadium Aino, leaned back in her chair with a false casualness, seeming to eye the surroundings, all the while focusing intently on the face of her opposite number. She struggled to identify her feelings towards the deceptively teenage-looking redhead. Anger, mixed with deep sadness and pity, all in turbulent combination.
Sakura's glance wavered as her vision began to blur, unbidden tears welling up into her eyes. She found herself staring not at Kattan, but rather at the small vase in the center of the table, in which resided two roses, one red and one orange, wilting in the heat.
To anyone else it would have seemed nothing more than a tacky decoration with no meaning or purpose behind it under than simple ornamentation. But to these two women, the flowers were a symbol; a potent, poignant reminder of the blood that bound them, and the pain that they shared. A reminder of their gathering, again and again over the years, in different spaces, in different places, but always on the same day, to remember the one tragic event that had changed their lives forever.
July 9th-- The day that Furu Ikari died.
To Sakura, he was a beloved adopted older brother and friend-- to Mango a lover, and devoted husband. They both had watched him grow from an unsure, unsteady insecure young man, into a confident, strong, determined warrior. And they had both watched him die.
Mango sucked some ice tea through her straw, looking at Sakura with something akin to disgust. Was that pity in her eyes? For me? She should spare that for herself. What had she lost? A "part-time" member of her family, brought in more as a whim on the part of her fickle mother who just sat around all day teasing him and forcing him into one uncomfortable situation after another? Her rival for a hundred years, whom she had battled across the plains of Crystal Millennium Japan? Hadn't he beaten her within an inch of her life and left her a bloody pulp on the streets of the city, bleeding into the gutters and waiting to die? She hadn't lost anything but a nuisance! I lost... I lost a part of MYSELF!
Sakura felt the icy glare of Mango's warm green eyes boring into her even as she looked away towards her drink. She knew why Mango hated her-- could even understand it. But still, despite her attempts to let her mind and her rational center govern her reactions, she reciprocated the emotion-- the bitter anger that sat at the bottom of her soul, clawing at her insides, itching to escape. She had spent years trying to salvage Furu, to keep him from crossing over to the darkness. All those years she ago, she had deliberately held back, allowing him to savagely maul her in the hopes that his conscience would come through and reclaim his soul. Back then, the gambit had worked-- the gentleness of spirit in Furu had shone outwards and he had left her in the street to heal.
All Sakura had ever wanted to do was prevent him and his silly crusade to unseat Serenity II from the throne of Crystal Tokyo from getting him sentenced to mind-wipe by Ginzuishou. She had loved the big lug as much as any sister could have, and had covered for him again and again and again-- but in the end, in the horrible, twisted end, there had been nothing she could do.
"I still have the ring," Mango said slowly, cooly, watching under hooded eyes to see Sakura's reaction.
Involuntarily, Sakura trembled, a shudder of guilt and anger washing over her.
"Does it hurt," Mango asked quietly, her tone of voice indicating that while she had started the exchange with the hope of extracting some sadistic pleasure from Sakura's discomfiture, now she was regretting her words.
"Yes," Sakura replied in trembling voice. "Every day."
The ring had been a toy-- a device of unimaginable power that Sakura had built on a whim to demonstrate that Oan Power Ring, the pride and joy of Furu's father, Shinji Ikari, was nothing more that a simple mechanism easily replicated and surpassed by a Time Lord. Tying it to the power of a black hole, she had used it for her amusement for mere moments before just giving it to a youthful Mango as a present. It was a decision that had been lightly and easily made. Now, it was one that haunted her every time she thought of her dead brother.
How could she? Sakura thought bitterly. How could she have done that to him, used the ring in that way? She had nothing to lose! She could have just run away!
"He was already gone, you know," Mango said slowly, her Australian accent coming on thickly as she spoke, not bothering to meet Sakura's gaze. Her tone was dull and lifeless, a mocking contrast to her glowing, youthful complexion and broad face which even now, in the depths of her depression seemed to involuntarily smile.
"You don't know that!" Sakura snapped a bit too quickly.
"Yes. I. do." Mango's looked squarely into Sakura's eyes. "You were always too much the optimist, Sakura. You didn't feel the ground against your back, feel the cold steel of the DG wires cutting into your flesh even as they pinned you down, cutting into you, severing arteries, sawing into bones. You've didn't have your husband rip you to pieces again and again and again, laughing with sick pleasure!" Tears were streaming from her eyes, and it was all she could do to avoid screaming. "And when that was done, he waited for me to reform, lifted me into the air and ripped my limbs off, letting my body drop to the ground, and then he slammed his damn wires into me and--- and---" she broke down completely, sobbing and weeping uncontrollably.
"Turned you... inside out..." Sakura finished almost numbly. She had been there, after all, seen it with her own eyes. Seen Mango's inverted body explode in a pulpy mess of organs and viscera, heard her whimpering screams of pain and agony even has the man who was her husband stood there, his massive frame black against the sun, a look of horrible rage mixed with amusement across his face even as his wife's body twitched, bled and convulsed.
Sakura had wanted to attack then, wanted to leap forward. But she hadn't, for he had been her friend, her companion and confidant. He had known her mother, and told her stories of her during those long, bitter years when she had thought her family dead. Even in the midst of the carnage she had seen nothing more than the sweet, smiling face of that young lad who had wanted nothing more than to be loved and accepted by those around him.
So she had held back, gambling on the constitution of the Heartless Immortal to prevail over the savagery of the jinzouningen. She had mentally pleaded with Mango to run.
But I didn't run, Mango reflected, seeing the pain in Sakura's eyes. Even as my throat burst from my screams, I had looked into his eyes, the eyes that were looking down at me with such cruelty and sadism, those same red eyes that had used to linger over my body with a soft, loving gaze, and I knew-- knew that he was already dead. Oh, the DG cells had kept his body alive, made him stronger, faster, indomitable and almost invincible, but his soul... whatever had been left of his noble, kindhearted soul-- that had met its death long ago, subsumed and obliterated by the machine. I had concentrated my energy and reformed my hand, bringing Sakura's ring up to his face. That gift from so long ago, that I accepted merely as a joke, as a party-trick conversation starter, I now used as a weapon, using my thoughts to will all the power of a black hole against him, burning his body away even as he looked at me dumbfounded.
The look, Sakura recalled as the tears filled her eyes, the look on his face was not one of shock that his wife had attacked him, but rather that something, anything was killing him-- erasing him, the ultimate fighting machine. When he passed, it was anticlimactically quiet, a silent *pop* that winked him right out of creation. Mango's torso had just hit the ground with a thud, the sands swirling about her torn-up husk of a body, her limbs crawling back to her body slowly, the blood pooling back into her frame. I was in shock, stunned. I had never expected to see this. Ever. The life of my dear dear friend, gone in an instant. I was out of control.
She had come running over to me, pounding on me, Mango remembered, the tears and the rage spewing forth in equal amounts. She hated me for not letting her have yet another chance to save that which was beyond salvage. And I hated her for giving me the means to do what I knew had to be done. We hated each other, and yet we knew. We understood that this day had been inevitable, unavoidable. That knowledge had not made it any the more palatable to either of us.
"It was your late mother's fault, you know," Mango finally said slowly. "No, no it was all our faults. We all teased him, made him feel like he was weak, helpless, needing to improve himself to be respected. We never let him know he was all right just the way he was."
"I never felt that way," Sakura replied quietly, head turned to one side, not looking at anything in particular.
"But did you ever tell him?" Mango pressed. "Ever say, 'Furu, I like you just as you are?'".
"No," Sakura admitted slowly. "Even when I saw him in the past, I challenged him, pushed him, even mocked him. What I wanted to do was make him reconsider the path of the warrior he would eventually take."
"And instead it hardened his resolve," Mango concluded, finishing up her tea. "Made him the very thing you wanted to prevent."
"We all killed him, Mango," Sakura replied softly, putting her hand on the other woman's hand comfortingly. "One thoughtless joke at a time."
"Sakura," Mango exhaled, looking her in the eyes steadily. "You know, we're probably the last ones who remember him now."
"I know," Sakura replied, looking over at the flowers sadly. "I know."
And so, the two women stood, their talk of a time millennia past done. Around them, life proceeded as usual. Despite their personal pain, the universe moved on, the cosmos seemingly indifferent to the loss of Furu's singular light. Taking one last look at each other, they prepared to go their separate ways, separated by pain, yet ironically joined by their mutual love for Furu Ikari. They made their plans to meet again the following year, to talk again, to remember again.
To make sure his memory lived on forevermore.